Being that today is World Autism Day, I not only wanted to participate in the “Light it Blue” campaign by wearing blue today, but I also wanted to do some active awareness! Recently the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released information on the prevalence of autism and many other organizations are helping to bring awareness to individuals with the disorder. You may see more information about this disorder as more people become educated or touched by these dynamic individuals.
Many of us here at the ApaCenter serve clients who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For those who are not familiar with the disorder, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severely impaired social, communicative, and behavioral functions associated with sensory sensitivities and a restricted range of activities, preoccupations, and interests as well as stereotypical behaviors. Over the last 10 years, the prevalence of ASD in the United Sates has increased by 78%. The most recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey found that 1 in every 88 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. So what are some reasons for this drastic increase? It could be that knowledge and awareness has caused this increase or it may be the broad umbrella category that describes ASD such as Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Needless to say, many parents of children with autism and adults with autism search for competent clinicians who are knowledgeable in this area to conduct comprehensive evaluations and provide evidence-based treatments. It is also important to consider including Speech and Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Behavior Analysts, and Educators to support these individuals.
In general, research has shown that early intervention is key to reducing ASD symptoms and improving functioning and quality of life. So, it seems that early identification is crucial. Infants and toddlers can show early signs of social and communication differences including limited or no eye contact, lack of social smiling, lack of imitation, speech delays, etc. More obvious symptoms begin to emerge and indicate the need for referral and intervention.
In my experience of working and identifying individuals with ASD, I have found it important to spend a significant amount of time on these evaluations in order to identify these symptoms and treat them on an individual basis. If you have concerns or are interested in evaluation and treatment, the ApaCenter may be able to help. Through these evaluations, we collaborate with other professionals, develop treatment plans, provide parent training, in-home training, social skills training, and work with the school to provide recommendations for use in developing children’s individual education plans (IEPs). If this is something of interest, call for a consultation.
For research information, go to www.autismspeaks.org/site-wide/autism, www.brainconnectivity, and www.plosgenetics.org/autism/article.